Why Interdisciplinarity in Higher Ed?

Interdisciplinary education can help students develop 21st century skills, and a wide range of cross-cutting professional skills. It enables students to look at the world through multiple lenses; synthesize disciplines to better understand phenomena; identify and connect interdependencies among disciplines or topics; and understand larger systems in which individual disciplines exist (Cotantino et al., 2010; Cowden & Santiago, 2016; Styron, 2013), where “knowledge […] is not applied in bits and pieces but in an integrated fashion” (Summers, 2005, p.627).

Typology of Interdisciplinarity

“Interdisciplinary” refers to any type of activities that traverse the boundaries of traditional disciplines. We consider interdisciplinarity being an umbrella term for three main types, including cross-disciplinary education, multi-disciplinary education, and transdisciplinary education.

Suggested Readings

Aldrich, J. H. (2014). Interdisciplinarity : its role in a discipline-based academy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Ashby, I., & Exter, M. (2018). Designing for interdisciplinarity in higher education: Considerations for Instructional Designers. TechTrends. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0352-z

Ashby, I., Caskurlu, S., & Exter, M. (2018). Evolving roles of faculty at an emerging hybrid competency-based transdisciplinary program. The Journal of Competency-Based Education, 3(1), e01059. https://doi.org/10.1002/cbe2.1059

Baker, W. D., & Däumer, E. (2015). Designing interdisciplinary instruction: exploring disciplinary and conceptual differences as a resource. Pedagogies, 10(1), 38–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/1554480X.2014.999776

Becher, T. (1994). The Significance of Disciplinary Differences. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 151–161. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079412331382007

Becher, T., & Trowler, P. (2001). Academic tribes and territories : intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA:  Open University Press.

Holley, K. (2017). Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Learning in Higher Education. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.138

Jacob, W. J. (2015). Interdisciplinary trends in higher education. Palgrave Communications, Vol. 1. https://doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2015.1

Kandiko, C. B. (2012, July). Leadership and creativity in higher education: The role of interdisciplinarity. London Review of Education, 10, pp. 191–200. https://doi.org/10.1080/14748460.2012.691283

Klein, J. T. (2006). A Platform for a Shared Discourse of Interdisciplinary Education 1. Journal of Social Science Education © JSSE, 5(2), 10–18. Retrieved from www.jsse.org